(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – Senior Nicole Caddell scored 23 points on Senior Night, as the No. 13 Central Missouri Jennies held on to defeat No. 25 Truman, 58-56, Wednesday night at the Multipurpose Building.
The Jennies finished their home schedule with a perfect 14-0 home record, the first undefeated season inside the Multi since 1988-89.
In her final regular season home game, Caddell came out strong, scoring 23 points and nearly posting a double-double, with nine rebounds. The Tuscaloosa, Ala. native scored eight of the first ten points for UCM, as the Jens took an early 10-6 advantage within the first five minutes of play. The Jennies (22-3, 14-3 MIAA) led throughout the first half, as they held the Bulldogs (19-6, 12-5 MIAA) to just 26.7% (8-of-30) shooting from the field before the break. After Truman pulled to within a point at the 13:44 mark of the first half, Central Missouri used an 11-2 run highlighted by eight points fromKeuna Flax, to take their first double-digit lead of the night, at 21-11 with 10:04 in the first half.
UCM’s biggest lead of the night came with a minute until halftime, when Flax knocked down a jumper to put the Jens ahead 36-25. Truman’s Allie Norton, the Division II national leader in three-point percentage, knocked down a trey to finish the half, and the Jennies went into the locker rooms with a 36-28 lead. Central Missouri had scored 26 points in the paint in just the first half, more than they had in the entirety of six of their last eight games.
The Jennies were able to keep Truman at bay throughout most of the second half, but with a 50-42 lead with 6:52 to play, the Jens gave up an 8-1 run that brought the Bulldogs to within a point at 51-50, with just 4:05 to play. After a Brielle Wattley free throw, Caddell was able to score on back to back possessions, pushing the lead back to six, 56-50, with just :53 on the clock.
After two missed three-pointers followed by two offensive boards, Truman’s Nicole Gloor cut UCM’s lead in half with a trey with :20 remaining, 56-53. The Jens missed two free throws to ice the game, but Caddell came through on the offensive glass, buying another possession for the Jennies. The senior then knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Jens up five with 13 seconds to go.
TSU’s Norton hit another three-pointer, and the Bulldogs intentionally fouled again on the next possession, sending Caddell to the line with a narrow two-point lead and four seconds on the clock. Caddell missed the free throws, and after Truman came away with the rebound and a chance to tie or win the game at the buzzer, junior Quinnecia Twine came away with a game-saving steal as time expired.
Along with Caddell’s 23 points, junior Keuna Flax recorded her sixth double-double of the year, with 13 points and 10 rebounds. BreAnna Lewis also finished in double figures, with 10 points of 4-of-9 shooting from the field. In her final home game as a senior, Erin Redmond pulled down three rebounds and dealt out two assists.
Caddell also moves into the top 20 of the Jennies’ all-time scoring list, surpassing Margaret Nielson (1978-80) and Bethany Orendorff (2001-05) for 19th all-time.
Central Missouri’s undefeated home record is the fourth in school history. The previous three unbeaten home campaigns resulted in regional titles, and in 1988-89, a trip to the Final Four.
Head coach Dave Slifer also reached a milestone with Wednesday’s victory. Slifer picked up his 167th victory on the UCM sideline, tying Scott Ballard for second place on UCM’s all-time coaching wins list. It’s also his 550th career victory, the most all-time wins in MIAA history. Slifer has a 167-94 (.640) record in nine seasons at UCM.
The Jennies will now look ahead to a pivotal matchup in Topeka, Kan. on Saturday night, when they take on the No. 5 Washburn Lady Blues. Washburn is ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Central Regional rankings, ahead of UCM, at No. 2. The game is set for 5:30 p.m. at Washburn, and can be heard on 98.5 The Bar, 1450 KOKO, and online at www.warrensburgradio.com.